Yesterday, we spent some time breaking down the Rice offense. Today, we turn our attention to a Rice defense who has looked overmatched at times this season:
The Owls operate out of a 3-4 defense that features an undersized front 7. The defensive line has not registered a sack this season and struggles to make plays in the backfield. Texas should have no problem generating push up from their offensive line, who will be happy to see a defensive line the caliber of Rice’s after facing LSU a week prior. This is the type of game where both Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson could both approach the 100-yard mark.
One of the lone bright spots for Rice is junior Anthony Ekpe, who leads the team with 17 tackles so far this season. Outside of Ekpe, there is not much the other linebackers offer. If the Wake Forest game is any indication, the Rice linebackers will spend a lot of time guessing and trying to cheat their way to inflict negative plays. They often guess wrong, which ends up leaving massive holes for opposing offensive players.
Similar to the defensive line and linebackers, the Rice secondary does not offer much in terms of size. It’s hard to imagine 177-pound Andrew Bird having much success trying to slow down Brennan Eagles or Collin Johnson. Bird and fellow corner TyRae Thornton played a lot of press coverage against the Demon Deacons a week ago and were burned through the air for 312 yards.
Texas should be able to have success throwing the football to their big receivers. Rice is not a team that Sam Ehlinger will have to take multiple deep shots against to open other routes. The underneath throws should be there for most of the night, and the Longhorns would be smart to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers and see how much damage they can do.
Vegas projects the Longhorns will surpass the 40-point mark again on Saturday night, and there is little reason to believe that won’t be the case. Would it be shocking if Texas came out slightly flat and took a quarter to wake up? No, because it has happened in the past and Texas has a history of playing down to their competition at times. Regardless though, the Longhorns should be able to overpower Rice with their offensive weapons.
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